28-Aug-2009 (Fri)
Wherein Twestival screw us over with their egregious unprofessionalism.

As you might imagine, we do business with a lot of promoters who are amazingly flaky, inconsiderate, and otherwise unprofessional. It appears to be par for course in this line of work. Normally I wouldn't bother calling one of them out, because it's just so common, but this latest one is so egregiously unprofessional, and cost us so much time and money, that it deserves special mention and ridicule.

There's this group called "Twestival" whose gimmick seems to be throwing simultaneous events announced on Twitter, and raising some money for charities. I'm told they've done this before in SF, and got a decent turnout. They approached us in July and I gave them a quote for a date in September. They couldn't decide which date they wanted, and we ended up changing the date we had on hold for them three different times -- including rescheduling another promoter's event so that we could give Twestival the date they preferred.

They wanted to meet in person and do a walk-through of the club, as first-time promoters usually do. Our first warning sign: they couldn't manage to actually show up when they said they would. They asked to stop by on a Wednesday at noon, then at 9AM on that day emailed us to say "we can't make it until Friday". We rescheduled for Friday. Then on Friday, they just didn't show up. No explanation. No phone call. And (eventually) barely an apology, by email, a week later.

Still, it sounded like it could be a profitable event, so we didn't give up on them yet.

We sent a contract, and asked for a deposit. Months went by. A few times they asked when they could stop by to drop off the deposit, but never actually did so. We emailed and called them at least a couple times a week and got no response at all. I even asked a friend who works at Twitter to try to contact them, since they seem to have some vague affiliation. Nothing.

Then today, I got this!

Date: Fri, 28 Aug 2009 09:24:39 +0000
From: TwestivalSF <no-reply@mail.amiando.com>
Reply-To: info@krystyl.net
To: booking@dnalounge.com
Subject: TwestivalSF Venue Change

Dear Jamie!

We are excited about a few new announcements that you may have not gotten sooner...please take note of the last most important announcement :-)

[...two paragraphs of random hype elided...]

Last but not least, we have a venue location change....

The new location will be at [some other venue].com full details will be announced on the blog over the weekend. As part of behind the scenes of Twestival, we wanted you to be the first to know and PLEASE tweet it out! We want to make sure that everyone is aware of this change!

Best regards,
Your TwestivalSF Team
@twestivalsf
@krystyl
@ianryerson
@calamari
@operationsmile
@adventuregirl
@DvinMsM

Note that that's not even a message to DNA Lounge telling us that they no longer want the date we have on hold for them. That's a message to their announcements mailing list, to which they seem to have added us, encouraging us to tell everyone about the great new venue they've found.

Does that sound like an apology for wasting our time to you? No, it doesn't to me either.

So as a result of them having jerked us around for so long, now we have an empty night to fill on Fri Sep 11, just two weeks from now. This is way too short notice to arrange anything, especially with most of the city's reliable promoters heading to Burning Man next week, so chances are we'll be closed on that Friday.

So thanks to Twestival's rudeness and unprofessionalism, we're going to be closed on a Friday night. It's fair to say that they just cost us at least $5,000.

Don't do business with these people. Tell your friends. And hey, for extra irony, use Twitter to do it.

29 Responses:

  1. mc_kingfish says:

    Wow... wow, wow, wow.

    Don't know who they were, but prior to one of our shows at DNA recently a group of promoters were there "checking the place out." Apparently their plan was to do this on the subatomic level because they were there _forever_. They were not really but sort of in the way throughout run-thrus, sound check, etc., and as we got closer to doors, and throngs of girls were filing into the dressing room to change (as in "nude," as in "anyone in half their right mind would know this was not a public area anymore") these guys drifted upstairs, assumedly to discuss the layout of every single molecular fiber of the lounge.

    Now, to be fair, they clearly weren't there to perv on the girls --unless they were the world's greatest actors, they did seem entirely absorbed with their God-Knows-WTF microscopic examination of the DNA-- but when I went over to ask them oh so politely to please go away because, hello, people are changing here, they pretty much outright ignored me. As in they looked at me blankly for a millisecond, obviously confused by the noises coming out of my primitive word-hole, and then they went immediately right back into their conversation. I waited a few minutes, assuming that maybe they were German or Martian or something, and I tried again. This time I got a rather noticeably "Yes, yes, (you nobody) we heard you the first time, (now go away, plebian, we are scientists.)"

    I added the parts in paranthesis, but that was their basic thrust.

    Eventually I just stood in the middle of their conversation. They did leave, but not because of me. They never once looked at me or acknowledged my presence after that one, clearly-annoyed instance.

    Yay promoters! I'm so glad I'm a _producer_ instead!(you see, I actually *create* content... )

    :)

  2. krick says:

    That's what you get for attempting to do business with any of the fucktards that use twitter.

  3. Normally I read these misadventures of yours and have a nice laugh and pat myself on the back, "good choice you made, old chum, deciding to get into anything but the nightclub business." But this one caught me right in time for my nightly Two Minutes Hate.

    So I spent the time having a look at who was behind this. To save others the effort, here are a couple of choice bits: Krystal and her Sprint bill. The video on the sprint bill page is particularly enjoyable.

    • dojothemouse says:

      Uh, it's Krystyl, not Krystal. What is your problem?

    • afree87 says:

      In fact, this appears to be an event coordinately solely by Cry-stile.

    • bifrosty2k says:

      By the age of 21, she had moved back to California. Again back to the work force by starting a job as a data entry specialist, then Forever 21, and moving to waitressing. All jobs were short-lived. Not wanting to work for someone else she started pursuing other options. An opportunity was given to her to work for Schick Razors in 2005 as a promotional model during a Kelly Clarkson Concert.

      Future corporate raider and mogul HERE WE COME!

    • unwoman says:

      Oh fuck, that bitch is hugging *my* huge Blackberry!

  4. bifrosty2k says:

    Wow, what a bunch of fucknits.

    I suggest you announce it as "NEVAR FORGET" night, and invite all of bantown and the like.

  5. fantasygoat says:

    Forgive me if this stupid, but can't you just be open as a bar that Friday night?

    Edit: Not to excuse their clearly moronic behavior, just asking.

    • jwz says:

      Unfortunately, DNA doesn't really work as a plain-old bar. Mostly because of the size and layout of the place, the minimal staffing needed to open the doors is large enough that if we don't get a couple hundred customers, we're losing money. And we're not in the kind of neighborhood and don't have the kind of reputation that would cause that many people to just randomly show up on a friday without there being an "event" of some kind.

      • dasht says:

        It seems just wrong that after your DNA Lounge update you weren't besieged by several producer/promoters with up-and-coming acts looking to cobble together a big grab-bag show, maybe sweetening the offer with a set from some big-draw "special guest". I know a week and a few days is a very short amount of time to make contracts, plan and do promotion but... it should be doable *if* you have young acts looking for breakthrough opportunities.

        A suggestion: there must be *some* subset of producers and promoters that are nice to work with, right? And this kind of "blank big night on the schedule" problem does happen from time to time, reliably, right? Why not prepare for the inevitability in advance...

        Perhaps it would make sense to create a new, irregularly scheduled event called something like "Screwed" or, on the DNA theme "Transcription Error" or "Mutation" or "SNP" or even "F*CK" with the * replaced by the DNA logo. Have a template ready to go for posters, print ads, and club cards. Maybe make it a contest night: audience votes for best "new" act (for a lions share of the door?) and an audience raffle for t-shirts or something ("I Got Screwed at DNA - and I liked it").

        I guess there isn't enough up-and-coming talent? Not enough hunger for breakthrough gigs? I know of one act that I think you'd like that even *I* could probably hook up for a "Screwed" night (for a set, not necessarily a full show).

        You could test out the idea on a few off-nights first...

        -t

        • jwz says:

          Wow, what a fantastic idea you have there...

          Find some promoters... who are good at promoting events... and then get them to promote events...

          Why didn't I think of that.

          • dasht says:

            In fairness, it's "find...who are good...get them to have 'last minute' options in the wings" which is not quite the same. And, with two additional elements: create a unique brand for the last minute option and have it be a template format that makes it easy and rewarding for promoters to contribute part of a night without having to fill the night. I may well be an idiot but I'm not quite the idiot you make me out to be there.

            Sounds like a dismal industry though. Sorry for my naive optimism.

            -t

            • jwz says:

              Anyone capable of doing a successful last minute event would be even more successful at doing an event with actual planning. Finding and working with those people is basically our entire business. So yeah, you just gave me the "is it plugged in?" tech support suggestion here.

              • dasht says:

                Humble apologies, sensei.

                If the industry is in *that bad* a condition, it needs fresh blood. You make it sound like everyone currently in the business is a push-over to compete against.

                -t

                • fnivramd says:

                  You're assuming anyone (of that calibre) would want to compete.

                  The people shovelling shit may not be good at it, but it turns out that people who are much better don't want to shovel shit.

                • mc_kingfish says:

                  Just want to make the point that if a producer produces an event well, it looks to the audience like it's easy to produce an event. It is not. The ones that make it look easy, doubley so.

                  When you go to a crappy event (which describes a lot of them) chances are they were the result of somebody thinking it was easy to produce an event. This is why there is such a thing as an "audience experience" that is not the same thing as the reality behind the scenes. (Kind of like how the people on Yelp think that the DNA produces all the events that go on there, or that Hubba Hubba Revue is paid by it's venues to perform in them.)

                  Events of the kind you describe --those that will draw in excess of 200 people to the DNA with 10 total days of prep and promotion-time-- are either "Hi, this is Green Day, can we play at your venue tonight?" or special events hosted by Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny and assorted other ficticious characters.

                  • dasht says:

                    Just to be clear, back at you: I completely believe you. Someone with knowledge of DNA was also kind enough to give me some basic info about the form of customary contracts, the draws needed for various nights of the week, and ballparks of the minimum the house needs to make to open the doors (like, if you were going to rent it for a special event on a Wed. or something).

                    You are right that when its done well, it looks easy. Same as in many other professions, I guess.

                    I still say "what's this town coming to" because in my hazy memory the music / nightclub scene used to be a lot more vibrant. Probably it was partly something to do with lower rents and higher percentages of disposable income and more of a sense among musicians that the City was one of those places you could go to "make it". Maybe it's just a trick of memory but I think it probably was actually a lot easier for producers in the early 90s and, by a lot of accounts, the late 60s and parts of the 70s were a lot easier.

                    I think there has to be a better way to run the producer / promoter business - some "formula" nobody is seeing yet. But I'm just fantasizing / speculating / learning at this stage. Probably it needs lots of really good myspace pages or something ;-) (Yeah, that's a joke.)

                    -t

                  • mc_kingfish says:

                    I don't know from the 60's and 70's (I just look that old... ;) ) but it absolutely _was_ much easier in the 90's. For one thing, people actually went out in public and supported clubs and shows in very large numbers back then. The demo/age group that used to be that audience moved on ages ago, and now either sits at home hitting refresh on Facebook all night, or they're packing sweaty-tiny dive bars.

                    Once upon a time there were _lots_ of midsized dance and live-music venues in SF, and that's because they were supported. You'd go out several days a week, and go to multiple venues like the DNA in one night --that was part of the appeal of urban living. That mindset didn't occur in the last whole generation or two.

                    Mind you, don't discount the War on Fun. Yes, things were maybe a little more lawless and we weren't all packed in jeweler's cotton back then, but it was a _lot_ easier for clubs to exist In Olden Times. Now the level of regulation and outright harassment (targeted for the most part at the clubs who _do_ follow the rules, of course... Cuz it's not like the actual troublemakers are going to show up in court or pay fines and such... ) has crushed out a ton of the old venues, as well as the fun in leaving the house for a Night On The Town in the first place.

                    A lot of it is shifting demographics and changes in technologies and mindsets, too. The Old San Francisco that had a late night reputation was pushed out of the city limits years ago. Those people went away, got priced out, got old, had kids, whatever. Younger folk couldn't afford to replace them, or didn't see any value in trying. Meanwhile, the NIMBY's scream and scream to close down anything related to having a good time at night, and replace it with a Pottery Barn. Yay, suddenly San Francisco is sitting around talking up a reputation that stopped being true decades ago.

                    Good Lord, please no more articles or TV spots about the goddamn Summer of Love...

  6. mtbg says:

    Do you plan to comment publicly on this or this?

    • curlyeric says:

      "We chose to change venue for several reasons. Most of all, we decided to go with a location that was open to contributing to the purpose of the event, supporting local charity OperationSmile.org."

      Basically we were cheapskates who skipped out on the goodwill of DNA lounge and can't be man enough to own up to it and would rather make up lame excuses.

      It all comes down to this; if they could email Jamie the event announcement why the fuck could they not get in touch with him for 2 months before then? If they had a contract in hand how hard was it to get the proper deposit check? It's not like Jamie is some hermit living under a rock without internet access.

    • "TwestivalSF believes that you should always find the truth in your tweet before you re-tweet."

      It's like a four year old girl talking to her dolls. Why on earth would anyone "comment publicly" on that?

    • fantasygoat says:

      They keep harping on and on about comments being turned off, when it is clear that comments are being made here on LJ. Also, I saw mention of the organizer trying to "tweet" Jamie - does he even have a twitter account? I would hazard to guess "no".

      The lameness seems clearly on their end. Volunteers indeed - you get what you pay for.

    • vordark says:

      I really like the implication in the letter they posted that because jwz wrote a blog-rant, he has some kind of obligation to host or otherwise point to their response.

      • leolo says:

        Well, he does.

        Or rather, in the world inhabited by the precious little snowflakes of twistival, he does.